Not Bad for 90
When I was shown pictures of Audrey’s intricate knitting designs I thought that I would meet an ordinary 90 year old lady who dedicated a lot of time to her knitting.
Audrey sat in her knitting chair and I settled on the green sofa. She explained she’d got home at 2am after the Evesham River Festival, I laughed slightly shocked.
“It was a wonderful day.” I’m captured by Audrey’s mischievous smile.
I set up my camera in the corner and Audrey seems a little uncomfortable with it. I explain it’s mainly for my memory and to try to ignore it
“My mother taught me to knit when I was 3 years old, so I could knit when I went to school.” “For school?” I ask. “Oh yes,” she replies “we did knitting and sewing and raffia” I have to admit that I’ve never heard of raffia, Audrey explains it is a type of weaving used to make things like baskets. What about science and maths I wonder to myself.
She shows me a picture of her mother she has on her fire place. The picture is of a smiling lady holding a white square cake engraved with the number ‘100’. “She was a wonderful woman. That was her on her 100th Birthday” there’s a warmth to Audrey’s voice now as we look at the picture together. “Do you have any brothers or sisters?” I ask. “Oh yes, I was one of twelve.” She says proudly, “twelve?” I repeat astonished, as a mother of a chaotic one year old I can’t believe my ears. “I can’t imagine having twelve” I say. “I had six” she tells me and it’s clear that Audrey’s family are very important to her.
She tells me that she taught her daughters and her granddaughters to knit. She takes me to the fire place again and shows me a picture of twin girls. Next to the picture is a pink knitted hedgehog with sparkly brown knitted spines.
“My Granddaughter made this one” she glows.
Next to the fireplace stands a tall, powder blue post box decorated with flowers and a picture of Audrey on the front. “My granddaughter made this for my 90th” she tells me.
It’s a post box of family memories. It’s been carefully handmade. “I don’t like a fuss so I thought my birthday would be quiet you know, in the evening I went with my family and they surprised me with a big party. There was everyone I knew. My daughters had been conspiring for months between themselves.”
Audrey explained that her daughters had flown over to the UK to be with her on her birthday, one from New Zealand and one from Canada. “Ive flown all around the world, I love flying.” Audrey shows me some pieces she’s done. There is a pastel yellow blanket which is her favourite and a grey teddy which is mine.
On a shelf in her lounge, proudly surveying the room are the Royal Family (well the knitted version) “The Corgis were especially fiddly” she laughs. “I made those for the Queens Diamond Jubilee, and they were displayed in the Church”. In fact the figures attracted so much attention that they were featured in My Weekly Magazine. “Have you made anything for charity?” I ask. “Yes” she replies, “I make a lot of clothes from premature babies”
“Is there a particular charity that’s meaningful to you?” I sense a change in Audrey’s energy as she answers me. “Yes, I make things for the Red Cross, My husband was in the War and they were wonderful.”
For the first time Audrey’s smile falters and I’m relieved when she offers a subject change. She flexes her hands, “Not bad for 90 years old? It keeps my hands going.”
She reveals that she’s never suffered with arthritis or any joint pain at all… I had never considered knitting as a form of exercise. I ask Audrey if I can take some photos and she obliges posing with her creations. There’s a knock at the door as I’m leaving and Audrey’s son-in-law lets himself in. “He comes to check on me every day” she tells me happily. “Yeah but I have to book months in advance to see you” he jokes, “she’s always doing something she’s busier than I am!”
I step out into the rain thinking of all Audrey’s adventures and I find myself as a twenty six year old new mum, with a new perspective of age.